The scribes behind the Middle English masters

“The clerks of the London Guildhall form the invisible link between medieval authors like Geoffrey Chaucer and their first audiences, the original owners of the medieval manuscripts we study today,” said Professor Linne Mooney of the University of York.

For that reason Prof Mooney has launched a project to identify the scribes who made the first copies of works by such major British authors as Geoffrey Chaucer and William Langland. The project, freely accessible on the internet, Late Medieval English Scribes, looks at the early manuscripts of five major Middle English authors: Chaucer, Langland, John Gower, John Trevisa and Thomas Hoccleve.

"The site provides a description of each manuscript, including details such as dating and dialect, detailed descriptions of each scribe’s handwriting, and illustrations of a typical page written by each scribe. It also features illustrations of eight letter forms typical of each scribe’s writing so that further identifications of work by them can be made."